Embedded Finance Brings Checkout Innovation to European B2B Merchants

Despite increasing innovation in the B2B space, continued reliance on manual processes and the resulting slow pace and high operating costs associated with managing receivables remain widespread pain points for firms, particularly small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Fewer than 10% of B2B payments are done online, said Anil Stocker, co-founder and CEO at London-based B2B payments firm Kriya (formerly MarketFinance).

“You still have big wholesalers on the phone taking payments or sending invoices via WhatsApp, so there’s a lack of digitalization and a lack of choice around payments and also in business transactions,” he said in an interview.

Additionally, having buyers on one side requesting more time to pay or the option to pay in multiple installments at different times depending on their cash flow, while suppliers and wholesalers want to be paid immediately up front, has added more complexity to B2B payments processes, he added.

On the upside, however, these frictions have created an opportunity in the market, according to Stocker, one that has increased as businesses that were used to interacting with customers in-person pre-pandemic are now having to engage new clients online and across borders with little to no tech resources to ensure they are reliable or trustworthy.

That’s where the value of a specialist B2B payments firm such as Kriya, which over the last 10 years has been meeting the credit needs of United Kingdom SMBs, comes into play, he noted. The firm has been taking advantage of the embedded finance trend to integrate its payments and lending technology into third-party ecosystems both in the U.K. and across European markets like Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium.

“We’ve integrated 10 B2B marketplaces into our platform so far, from food and drink and distribution to logistics and construction,” he explained. “And we’re seeing very fast adoption by buyers who are choosing to pay with Kriya, all with a single click at checkout.”

There is another opportunity with larger, more incumbent traditional wholesalers, who were previously selling in stores or via call centers and are now having to move operations into the digital age.

“That offline-to-online journey will continue to be a big trend moving forward,” he said.

Overall, he said in today’s fast-evolving digital world that businesses now have the opportunity to outsource increasingly complex credit and payment needs to a B2B specialist like Kriya that provides a one-stop shop for fast and frictionless payments, flexible lending and strong customer authentication that minimizes risk and creates a more secure environment for online business payments.

Generative AI Drives B2B Payments Innovation

Ever since ChatGPT burst onto the scene in late 2022, much has been said about the potential of the generative artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot to disrupt and drive innovation across industries, including healthcarefinance and spend management.

When it comes to B2B payments, Stocker said the new efficiencies that generative AI solutions can produce across the business landscape are not lost on him.

“Whereas before we were using AI techniques in quite a narrow way to build our risk models and make them smarter, we’re starting to realize that we can use AI across all our business,” he said.

Read also: Generative AI Aimed at Making Business Payments Customer-First

This includes deploying AI at the front end, particularly in marketing, to easily identify and screen customers who are a right fit for the business. That, and using AI to quickly extract key public information on trade partners and competitors, or to receive alerts on changes to a company’s structure in real time, are ways he said the technology can help build an accurate and comprehensive picture of a business.

He also pointed to customer support as another major use case of generative AI in B2B payments, especially the way it can assist in automating answers to basic and frequently asked questions from SMB owners — a process that previously required having a team in place to respond to queries either via phone or email.

“Now, that can be automated and done in a much more systematic way using AI tools,” Stocker said. “It really does change a lot for all the business functions that we have, and we want to fully take advantage of it.”

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